Curriculum Overview 

The study of French opens the door to diverse cultures around the globe, from France itself to other French-speaking countries and regions in Europe, North and West Africa, Quebec, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. French provides useful links to many parts of the world and to many areas of the liberal arts curriculum. Students interested in the arts, in government and business, in public health, environmental studies and international studies across the disciplines, benefit from the practical skills, the cultural knowledge and awareness and the intellectual connections that studying French can provide.

The Department of French and Francophone Studies offers language courses for beginners and for those who want to build on their knowledge of French. The introductory-level courses stress communicative competency and the acquisition of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. The intermediate courses reinforce and extend those skills through an interactive exploration of contemporary French and Francophone culture using a variety of authentic print and electronic sources.

The French major provides a cohesive, integrated experience which gives students a solid background in language, literature and culture. Introductions, the three core courses required for the major, serve as a gateway to the major and a bridge from the intermediate to advanced levels of our program. These courses provide students with the tools to describe, debate, analyze and critique French literary and cultural texts, films, documents and other cultural phenomena, both orally and in writing. In the Développement stage of the French major, students choose from advanced courses in the following categories: Racines (historical, literary, or cultural ideas, movements and icons across time); Hors Hexagone (literature, ideas, and concepts from several regions of the French speaking world); Monde Contemporain (literature, ideas, or figures associated with France during the last one hundred years); and Perfectionnement et Pratique (development of written and/or oral skills at an advanced level). In the final year of the major, students will take one Approfondissement course, an advanced level seminar which is an in-depth study of an author, genre, era, or phenomenon.

A major in French consists of a minimum of 10 courses. Majors normally complete the three Introductions courses: FRN 241, FRN 242, FRN 261; 6 Développement courses (300-level) in three of four categories, Racines, Monde Contemporain, Hors Hexagone, Perfectionnement; and one Approfondissement course (400-level). All majors, in consultation with their adviser, will also create and present a portfolio of their work in French. This presentation will take place during the student’s final semester, before a group of department members and other French majors.

All French majors work closely with a departmental adviser to ensure the coherence and integrity of their major course of study.

In consultation with their advisers, French majors may take one cognate course outside of the department for credit in the major. These courses are subject to departmental approval. The following courses have been approved as cognates, others are subject to departmental review: LIN101, Introduction to Linguistics; LIN 120 Introduction to Sociolinguistics; INT200 Introduction to International Studies; GOV130 International Politics; BOS350 International Business; and HIS241 History of North and West Africa.

A joint major in French consists of eight courses: FRN 202, 241, 242, 261 and 481 (senior seminar or independent study); and three 300-level courses in two of the four distribution categories (Racines, Monde Contemporain, Hors Hexagone, Perfectionnement).  Two of these courses may be taken abroad. All joint majors, in consultation with their adviser, will also create and present a portfolio of their work in French. This presentation will take place during the student’s final semester, before a group of department members and other French majors.

Most of our majors and minors spend a semester or year abroad. We strongly recommend this immersion experience to all of our students, believing that travel alone is not enough to learn about other cultures. Only by living, working, relaxing and even dreaming in French will students acquire an advanced command of the language and a fuller appreciation of French and Francophone culture.

Majors and minors in the Department of French and Francophone Studies have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: Institute for Field Education (IFE); Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence (IAU); IES Abroad Paris; IES Center and University of Nantes. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Students majoring in French who enroll in French courses abroad normally may transfer up to two courses for credit (per semester).

The writing requirement in the French major is met by completion of FRN 242.

A minor in French consists of six courses numbered 201 or above. French minors must complete at least one 300-level Développement course or the equivalent.

Students minoring in French normally may transfer a total of two French courses taken abroad for credit towards the French minor.

Courses Offered 

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement; (WP) World Perspectives requirement.


101. Elementary French I.
For students with no previous experience with the language. An introduction to grammar, pronunciation and culture, with emphasis on developing communicative skills. No prerequisite. Offered every Fall. 

102. Elementary French II.
Continuation of French 101. Prerequisite: FRN 101 or placement.   

201. Intermediate French I. (LS)
Review and expansion of French language skills. Emphasis on basic language structures, with practice in the active application of these skills to the oral and written production of French. Traditional review of grammar is supplemented by use of current audio, video and digital authentic materials. Prerequisite: FRN 102 or placement.    

202. Intermediate French II. (H)
Continuation of FRN 201. Perfection of oral, aural and written language skills. Coursework may include discussion of current events in the Francophone world, based on a variety of texts from both literary and contemporary digital and print sources. Emphasis is on developing linguistic and cultural competence. Prerequisite: FRN 201 or placement.    

241. Parler, entendre, comprendre. (H)
This course is designed to improve skills in oral expression and aural comprehension. Emphasis is on informed conversation and vocabulary acquisition. Coursework includes individual and group work leading to the production of audio and/or video documents in French, as well as intensive pronunciation practice, impromptu speech, and informal writing skills. Extensive use of authentic French documents found on the internet. Prerequisite: FRN 202 or placement or permission of the instructor.  

242. Ecrire, décrire, s’exprimer. (H)
This course will focus on both the process and the product of writing in French. Analysis of model texts, targeted grammar review, and advanced stylistic practice will help students develop the skills necessary to accomplish a variety of writing tasks (description, letter, portrait, narration, summary, essay). Peer and self-editing techniques will help students learn to revise their own work. In addition, a common theme (different each semester) will provide material for discussion and inspiration for written assignments. Prerequisite: FRN 202 or placement or permission of the instructor.  

261. Lire, Analyser, Critiquer. (H)
This course introduces students to different types of French and Francophone texts. We begin by learning reading strategies and the techniques used in literary and textual analysis, then we learn to produce written and oral analyses of these texts using the forms common to French literary analysis. By the end of the course, students will be able to identify principal characteristics of major genres, write analytical commentaries on prose and poetry, and will be prepared to read unfamiliar French texts critically. Prerequisite: FRN 241, FRN 242 or placement or permission of the instructor.    

353. Environment in/and Literature. (H) (WP)
This course will investigate the intricate ways in which cultural expression reflect the relationships between human beings and their environment. We will concentrate on the principal ways in which French and Francophone literatures have dealt with the natural world (the vegetal and animal) moving from a pastoral to an allegorical, and from a colonial to a postcolonial use of the physical environment. The course will focus on the following authors: Guy de Maupassant, Jean de La Fontaine (France), Birago Diop (Senegal), Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé (French Caribbean), and Lise Tremblay, Ying Chen (Canada). Secondary sources from philosophers such as Descartes, Kant, Rousseau, Heidegger, Bergson, Derrida, Agamben, Bailly, Glissant and Serres, will constitute the backdrop of our discussion. Prerequisite: FRN 261 or placement. Same as ENE 353.    

359.  La France Occupée: 1940-1944. (H)
This course concentrates on the four-year German occupation of France during World War II with an emphasis on the role of the arts. We begin by exploring the ways in which artistic expression and consumption operated as acts of resistance or collaboration between 1940 and 1944. In the second half of the semester, we consider some of the literary and cinematic creations this period inspired. Prerequisite: FRN 261 or permission. Same as LIT 359.    

360. Littérature Expérimentale. (H)
This course considers two literary movements that appeared in France in the wake of World War II: the Nouveau Roman (New Novel) and OuLiPo. The New Novelists reject the perpetuation of 19th-century novelistic forms, proposing new literary techniques to better reflect the modern age. Experimentation reaches a peak with OulLiPo and writers such as Georges Perec and Raymond Queneau who impose fanciful constraints on their use of language and form. Prerequisite: FRN261 or permission.    

362. L'éducation en France: enjeux historiques et actuels. (H)
This course examines public education in France (and some of its colonies) since the Third Republic with a focus on its portrayal in contemporary literature and cinema. After a brief consideration of the historical foundations of the current French public school system, we will examine its key role in the civilizing mission of French colonization, before turning our attention to current challenges presented by France's increasingly diverse population. Prerequisite: FRN 261 or permission.

363. Marginal Sexualities in the Maghreb. (H) (NW) (WP)
This course will explore the cultural constructions of gender and sexuality in the Maghreb, and their relationship to the concept of nation. We will also focus on new spaces of negotiation offered on the threshold of the 21st century by Francophone North African authors such as Tahar Ben Jelloun, Rachid O, Abdellah Taïa, and Assia Djebar. The course will examine concepts such as desire, fluidity, heteronormativity, homosocial vs. homosexual relationships, hypermasculinisation, discursive/rhetorical/subjective communities, and misogyny in the context of 20th/21st century North America. Prerequisite: FRN 261 or placement. Same as AFS/WGS 363.     

364. Francophone Literatures and Cultures (NW) (WP)
This course provides an introduction to the history and culture of at least two areas of Francophonie, such as Quebec, the Caribbean, the Maghreb, and West Africa. Through literary works, films, and other materials, the course will explore the cultural, linguistic, and political interactions between France and other Francophone countries. Prerequisite: FRN 261 or placement.

366. Folk and Fairy Tales in French. (H)
Drawing on folk tales from Africa, Quebec, and the Caribbean, as well as classic fairy tales from France, we will raise questions about the nature of storytelling and the foundation of popular tales in a culture. We will examine the tales from a variety of perspectives, borrowing from psychology, anthropology, and literary criticism to form our interpretations. This popular literature will also serve as an introduction to the history and culture of various parts of the French-speaking world. Prerequisite: FRN 261 or placement. 

368. French Fashion as a Reflection of French Culture. (H)
French fashion is a cultural, historical, and literary phenomenon which can be interpreted in many ways. In this course, we will study the evolution of French fashion and the French system of haute couture. We will also explore fashion such as it is represented in literature across the centuries, reading Zola’s Au Bonheur de Dames, Colette’s Gigi, and Les chiffons du rêve, a collection of short stories written by the granddaughter of a famous French designer. We will also look at several theories on the interpretation and meaning of fashion; fashion marketing in the 21st century; and the special relationship between France, the French and the importance of being “à la mode.” Prerequisite: FRN 261 or placement.    

369. Francophone Theatre. (H) (NW) (WP)
Francophone plays often take a head-on look at issues that originate from the socio-political contexts in which they are produced, directly and openly calling into question established structural and/or ideological systems. This course will explore the various strategies of resistance, whether aesthetic or philosophical, used by francophone dramatists from diverse backgrounds. Authors and playwrights such as Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, Aimé Césaire, Jean Genet, Eugène Ionesco, and Simone Schwarz-Bart, will constitute the backdrop of our investigation. Prerequisite: FRN 261 or placement.    

381. Seminar: Advanced French/Francophone Studies. (H)
A seminar on a single aspect of French or Francophone culture: a writer, genre, theme or movement, seen in historical and cultural context. Prerequisite: at least one course beyond FRN 261. Recent courses include La Littérature de Guerre; Victor Hugo; L'Etranger; Monstrous Bodies; Luxe et Elégance. Topic for Fall 2020: Albert Camus: Creating Dangerously.  Open to juniors who petition the department to enroll.    

391. Directed Readings in French. (H)
Tutorial for students who have completed FRN 241, 242 and 261. Students who have a special interest may arrange a tutorial with a faculty member. Enrollment is conditional on instructor’s permission.    

481. Seminar: Advanced French/Francophone Studies. (H)

A seminar on a single aspect of French or Francophone culture: a writer, genre, theme or movement, seen in historical and cultural context. Prerequisite: at least two courses beyond FRN 261. Recent courses include La Littérature de Guerre; Victor Hugo; L'Etranger; Monstrous Bodies; Luxe et Elégance. Topic for Fall 2020: Albert Camus: Creating Dangerously. For seniors only. 

490. Independent Study.
The student pursues an in-depth investigation of a topic of special interest, under the direction of an adviser. Available in the senior year as a Senior Research Project. Prerequisite: Permission of chairperson.    

Courses Taught in English 

251. Magic and Mayhem in French Fairy Tales. (H)
Once upon a time, before Disney and the Brothers Grimm, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, and the Beast, were regular guests in the literary salons of Paris and Versailles. From Charles Perrault to Mme de Beaumont, French writers took folktales and spun them into elegant, edgy, and enduring narratives that both reflected and challenged social norms. Through close reading and analysis, we will examine these stories and their modern retellings, raising questions about narrative, gender, class, psychology, ideology, and other issues from a variety of critical perspectives.  Same as LIT 215.

Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2021-2022 


  • Les Misérables.
  • Luxe et Elégance.
  • Francophone Theater.